Curriculum theory

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Curriculum theory (CT) is an academic discipline devoted to examining and shaping educational curricula. Within the broad field of curriculum studies, CT includes both the historical analysis of curriculum and ways of viewing current educational curriculum and policy decisions. There are many different views of CT including those of Herbert Kliebard and Michael Stephen Schiro,[1] among others.

Kliebard takes a more historical approach to examining the forces at work that shape the American curriculum, as he describes those forces between 1893 and 1958. Schiro takes a more philosophical approach as he examines the curriculum ideologies (or philosophies) that have influenced American curriculum thought and practice between ca 1890-2007. Kliebard discusses four curriculum groups that he calls humanist (or mental disciplinarians), social efficiency, developmentalist (or child study), and social meliorists. Schiro labels the philosophies of these groups the scholar academic ideology, social efficiency ideology, learner-centered ideology, and social reconstruction ideology.

One of the common criticism of curriculum of broadfield curriculum is that it lays more emphasis on mental discipline and education. "Mental disciplinarians" and Humanists believe in all students' abilities to develop mental reasoning and that education was not intended for social reform in itself but for the systematic development of reasoning power. Good reasoning power would lead to the betterment of society. Harris described the subjects to be taught as the “five windows” into the soul of the student: “grammar, literature and art, mathematics, geography, and history” and prescribed it in that order to be taught (Kliebard,2004,p. 15).[2] Some critics view this group as having too much emphasis on the "classics" as determined by the dominant groups in a society (and particularly in history by the Committee of Five and Committee of Ten in the late 19th century), see also Western Cannon. In today's society this group is may be seen as having a cultural bias toward the upper class, as well as, the Caucasian majority in the United States.

Social meliorism[edit]

Social meliorists believe that education is a tool to reform society and create change of the better. This socialization goal was based on the power of the individual's intelligence, and the ability to improve on intelligence through education. An individual’s future was not predetermined by gender, race, socio-economic status, heredity or any other factors. “The corruption and vice in the cities, the inequalities of race and gender, and the abuse of privilege and power could all be addressed by a curriculum that focused directly on those very issues, thereby raising a new generation equipped to deal effectively with those abuses” (Kliebard,2004, p. 24).[3] Some critics contend that this group has goals that are difficult to measure and a product that has slow results.

John Dewey's curriculum theory[edit]

John Dewey felt that the curriculum should be ultimately producing students who would be able to deal effectively with the modern world. Therefore, curriculum should not be presented as finished abstractions, but should include the child’s preconceptions and should incorporate how the child views his or her own world. Dewey uses four instincts, or impulses, to describe how to characterize children’s behavior. The four instincts according to Dewey are social, constructive, expressive, and artistic. Curriculum should build an orderly sense of the world where the child lives. Dewey hoped to use occupations to connect miniature versions of fundamental activities of life classroom activities. The way Dewey hoped to accomplish this goal was to combine subject areas and materials. By doing this, Dewey made connections between subjects and the child’s life. Dewey is credited for the development of the progressive schools some of which are still in existence today.

Social efficiency educators[edit]

"Social efficiency educators" such as theorists Ross, Bobbitt, Gilbreth, Taylor, and Thorndike were aiming to design a curriculum that would optimize the “social utility” of each individual in a society.[4] By using education as an efficiency tool, these theorists believed that society could be controlled. Students would be scientifically evaluated (such as IQ tests), and educated towards their predicted role in society. This involved the introduction of vocational and junior high schools to address the curriculum designed around specific life activities that correlate with each student’s societal future. The socially efficient curriculum would consist of minute parts or tasks that together formed a bigger concept. This educational view was somewhat derived with the efficiency of factories which could simultaneously produce able factory workers. Critics believe this model has too much emphasis on testing and separating students based on the results of that testing

Culturally and ethnically diverse curriculum[edit]

Gay (2001) [5] & Villegas & Lucas (2002) [6] discuss the need for educators and institutions to be responsive to the needs of students in US high school and primary education. This is further discussed by authors such as Suleiman (2001) [7] & Taylor & Whittaker (2003) [8] identify curriculum as an important element in the negative schooling experiences of minority students because a traditional curriculum does not adequately represent their history (Said & Richardson 2007).[9] Nieto (1999, 97) [10] supports this concern for students who do not belong to the dominant group and seem to have challenging curriculum experiences that conflict with their personal cultural identity and their wider community reference groups.[11] This view is also supported by Jabbar & Hardaker (2012)[12] who mention that within curriculum development to much time is spent discussing what students do not have as opposed to skills and history that they come equipped with.

It is within this context that Gay (2001),[13] Villegas & Lucas (2002) [14] and Jabbar & Hardaker(2012) [15] provide frameworks that help prepare academics and teachers to develop curriculum that supports ethnic and cultural diversity that focuses on understanding the learner and developing curricula and practice that is consistent and thoughtful.

Developmentalism[edit]

Developmentalists focus attention to the development of children's emotional and behavioral qualities. One part of this view is using the characteristics of children and youth as the source of the curriculum. Some critics claim this model is at the expense of other relevant factors. One example of an extreme Hall advocated differentiated instruction based on native endowment and even urged separate schools for “dullards” in the elementary grades.

Reconceptualized Curriculum[edit]

In the late 1960s a group of curriculum theorists suggested that the field of curriculum had devolved into a mechanistic approach to content creation. This group made up of Apple, McClintock, Pinar and others created other ways of thinking about curriculum and its role in the academy, in schools, and in society in general.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ M. Schiro (2007) Curriculum Theory: Conflicting Visions and Enduring Concerns. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
  2. ^ H. Kliebard (2004) The Struggle for the American Curriculum,1893-1958,RoutledgeFalmer, New York
  3. ^ H. Kliebard (2004) The Struggle for the American Curriculum,1893-1958,RoutledgeFalmer, New York
  4. ^ Knoll, Michael: From Kidd to Dewey: The Origin and Meaning of Social Efficiency. Journal of Curriculum Studies 41 (June 2009), No. 3, pp. 361-391.
  5. ^ Gay, G. (2001). "PREPARING FOR CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING." Journal of Teacher Education 53(2): 106-116.
  6. ^ Ana María Villegas, T. L. (2002). "Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum." Journal of teacher education 53(20).
  7. ^ Suleiman, M. F. (2001). "Image Making of Arab Americans: Implications for Teachers in Diverse Settings."
  8. ^ Taylor, L., & Whittaker, C. (2003). "Bridging multiple worlds: Case studies of diverse educational communities." Boston: Pearson Education.).
  9. ^ Nermin Said, S. and B. Katherine Richardson (2007). "PART III: CREATING MULTICULTURAL CLASSROOMS: Learning from the Experience of Muslim Students in American Schools: Towards a Proactive Model of School-Community Cooperation." Multicultural Perspectives 9(3): 44.
  10. ^ Nieto, S. (1999). The light in their eyes - creating multicultural learning communities. Stoke on Trent, Trentham Books.
  11. ^ http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/15029/3/CRT-HE_Final.pdf
  12. ^ Jabbar, Abdul and Hardaker, Glenn (2012) The role of culturally responsive teaching for supporting ethnic diversity in British University Business Schools. Teaching in Higher Education . pp. 1-13. ISSN 1356-2517
  13. ^ Gay, G. (2001). "PREPARING FOR CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE TEACHING." Journal of Teacher Education 53(2): 106-116.
  14. ^ Ana María Villegas, T. L. (2002). "Preparing Culturally Responsive Teachers: Rethinking the Curriculum." Journal of teacher education 53(20).
  15. ^ Jabbar, Abdul and Hardaker, Glenn (2012) The role of culturally responsive teaching for supporting ethnic diversity in British University Business Schools. Teaching in Higher Education . pp. 1-13. ISSN 1356-2517
  16. ^ Pinar, W. (1995). "Understanding curriculum: An introduction to the study of historical and contemporary curriculum discourses." New York: P. Lang.